My final day as CEO of SFL was on August 31st, 2016. Last night, I took SFL’s DC office out for one last staff dinner at Fogo de Chao, the place where we have traditionally celebrated milestones. During the evening, I shared some thoughts with everyone present that I will share here as well.
Moments like this afford the opportunity for reflection. I often looked back in wonder as SFL grew year over year. Each first was a meaningful milestone for the movement: the first conference, the first time John Stossel filmed a show at the ISFLC, the first international leadership team, the first time SFL leaders had to be evacuated from their country, the first 1,000+ person conference, the first time SFL had leaders on every continent, and the first time SFL alumni impeached a corrupt president. As exciting as it is to look back on all of these firsts, I am far more exciting to look forward to the 10th, 50th, and 100th time they are all accomplished.
Over the years, I have held many roles at SFL: even planner, recruiter, trainer, manager, fundraiser, writer, editor, envelope stuffer, pack mule, financier, heavy lifter, strategic planner, spokesperson, architect, and more. My credit cards have been SFL’s sole access to capital. My dorm room and apartments have been SFL’s office and storage facility. My suitcase was our FedEx account.
From all that, there are too many stories I am leaving with to recount here; the first ISFLC where we fended off a snowstorm and my credit card companies shut down my accounts because of unusual spending activity; sleeping on floors, couches, or a shared bed if I was lucky; fending off attacks from CPAC, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, critical news outlets, and the Ron Paul Institute; stuffing more envelopes, taking more Chinatown bus rides, making more phone calls, debating more issues than I can remember; and surviving risky situations from questioning the Venezuelan military in a Caracas polling station to making it through the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria unscathed.
I can sum up my feelings about the past decade as: Much has been sacrificed. More has been gained. I am leaving with incredible relationships, the love of my life as my wife, great friends, fond memories of those we lost too soon, old colleagues to reminisce with, and future partners to keep up the cause. I learned a great deal, principles like “never assume” and “always ask,” how to do things like build an international structure that balances centralization and decentralization, and how now to do many more things with the long list of failures that paved the way for SFL today. What may be least tangible, but incredibly important, is that I am taking away an optimism for the future that contrasts starkly with the pessimism I felt early in college.
This is not good-bye. As I have said many times before, leaving staff does not mean leaving SFL. My role is changing, as it always has, much like how SFL is changing and always has. But I will still be here to support each of you however I can and to support the student movement for liberty as best I can.
Stay big tent. Maintain high standards. Keep learning, changing, and growing. Build relationships. Always remember the purpose to all this: a freer future.
Thank you, everyone, for what you have done, are doing, and will do. The future of SFL is in your hands, which means the future of the liberty movement is in your hands.